Consumer Council for Water
Struggling water customers ‘suffering in silence’ and missing out on vital support
Struggling households are still missing out on vital support with paying their water bill despite more help being offered by water companies, the Consumer Council for Water has revealed.
The water watchdog has recently (5th September) published a new report – Living With Water Poverty 2014: Keeping Your Head Above Water – which offers a fresh insight into the pressures facing those on low incomes.
The report reveals that some water customers suffer in silence rather than seeking help with paying their water bill. This is despite an increasing willingness among water companies to extend practical and financial help to those who need it most.
Customers often don’t expect to be able to receive help from their water company. Awareness of water company assistance funds and schemes offering reduced charges for some customers in certain circumstances, such as WaterSure and Welsh Water Assist, remain low.
CCWater will now use the findings to work with the water industry and advise agencies to identify how support for those in debt or struggling to pay their bill can be improved, while also boosting awareness of existing assistance measures.
Andy White, senior policy manager at the Consumer Council for Water, said: “One in five water customers now tell us their water bill is not affordable – compared to one in eight last year.
“Customers who are struggling to pay should get in touch with their water company as soon as possible. CCWater has helped ensure the number of customers signing up for assistance has increased, but it’s still not enough. The Water industry should make it a priority to ensure customers know this help is available, and how to get it.
“Our own website ccwater.org.uk also highlights a variety of ways that customers can get help or make savings on their bills.”
The report’s other key findings include:
- Coping strategies used by those managing on a very limited budget include cutting back on expenditure of essential and non-essential items and relying on cheaper quality goods.
- Whilst those surveyed tended to consider water bills more affordable than other bills they are more likely to let water payments slip.
- Falling into debt is often triggered by major lifestyle changes that are largely out of people’s control
- Water companies, and some customers, seem more willing to discuss financial difficulties and negotiate extended payment periods than before.
- Customers are interested in having access to a single information resource to help them identify the support available with water bills.
The full Living With Water Poverty 2014: Keeping Your Head Above Water research report will be available to read here from Friday, September 5. It is an update from CCWater’s original study in 2009.
Latest News from
Consumer Council for Water
Sewer flooding misery for customers: call for urgent action from wastewater companies19/05/2022 15:17:15
People who have their homes flooded with sewage are frequently being let down by wastewater companies, whose response can leave customers facing long-term distress.
Cost of living struggles strengthen case for new water affordability scheme16/05/2022 12:20:00
New research highlighting households’ struggles with the cost of living underlines the urgent need for a new universal scheme to help customers who struggle to afford their water bill.
Credit Where It’s Due: Launching our campaign26/04/2022 16:20:00
Many businesses were financially impacted by Covid-19 so it’s vital they get the help and support they need.
CCW appoints Caroline Warner as independent Chair of PR24 challenge group21/04/2022 12:20:00
A new Challenge Co-ordination Group has been established by CCW, with Caroline Warner appointed as its independent chair.
Majority of customers are satisfied with water company services – but many don’t think they are acting in their best interests06/04/2022 15:22:00
While two thirds of people are happy with the water services they receive, only around a third of customers would trust their water company to fix a problem quickly and just over a quarter think companies act in the interests of people and the environment respectively.
CCW shares tips to help Wales households beat bill rises23/03/2022 09:20:00
Trialling the potential benefits of a water meter and getting savvy with your use of hot water are just two ways thousands of households in Wales could take some of the heat out of rising water and energy bills.
CCW shares tips to take the heat out of April bill rises22/03/2022 12:20:00
Trialling the potential benefits of a water meter and getting savvy with your use of hot water are just two ways millions of households could take some of the heat out of rising water and energy bills.
Your Water Your Way: Extra free help, straight to your door17/03/2022 14:43:00
For a week, beginning on 21 March, we will be raising awareness of the extra free help available for water customers in vulnerable circumstances, also known as Priority Services with our campaign Your Water Your Way.